I’m going to start this review by confessing that the only reason I signed up to do it is that I was eight years old when Jurassic Park came out. As a result, I find it difficult to separate Jeff Goldblum from that slick/slightly sleazy black-shirted/oily-chested icon of the JP franchise, the one and only Dr. Ian Malcolm.
When it came to my attention that Jeff had a jazz album coming out, in my mind’s eye it was Dr. Malcolm that I saw sat at the piano, accompanied by a velociraptor on the saxophone and a T-Rex on the double bass.
Once I bothered to do a bit of further research beyond my own mildly amusing daydream, I was intrigued to discover that, unbeknownst to me, as well as hanging around dino droppings and making quips about giant piles of shit Jeff has also had a long and pretty successful run as a jazz pianist playing with his own jazz ensemble, the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. Of further intrigue were the rumours of his ‘celebrated’ Glastonbury set this summer, as well as the long list of big names collaborating on the album including Fiona Apple, Anna Calvi, and one of my personal favourites, Sharron Van Etten.
My second confession is that, as you might’ve guessed, I know a hell of a lot more about Jurassic Park than I do about Jazz. So if you’re after a review covering all the technical bits and bobs, this is not going to be it.
What I can say is that, as an album of smooth jazz covers goes, it’s pretty well done.
This is probably unsurprising given the amount of talent oozing out of it, however, while the performances are polished, it all just feels a little soulless to me. Despite the exciting list of collaborators, it doesn’t really feel like any of them leave their mark on the tracks that they’re covering. Even Sharron’s performance on Let’s Face the Music and Dance sounds a little robotic and I had to check the track listings to work out which track she was actually singing on.
Although you can tell they must’ve had a lot of fun making it, there’s nothing particularly exciting or memorable about this album. The only track that really stands out for me is Make Someone Happy, which is considerably lifted by Gregory Porter’s inimitable voice and all-round prowess as a jazz vocalist. Other than that, the best I can say is that apart from Jeff’s slightly creepy crooning on the final track, Little Man You’ve Had a Busy Day, it’s fairly inoffensive stuff which I could imagine people buying on CD for their Nan’s at Christmas (do people still do that?).
To conclude, it’s ok, but could massively be improved by the inclusion of dinosaurs.
Words by Kirsten Loach.